Near Atlanta, Ga. August 5th/64
My Dear Sister:
I have to acknowledge the receipt of yours of the 27th Ult., a very interesting letter—which I got on the 3rd, while a very hard fight was going on on each side of us, especially on our Left.
I had to read it by piecemeal, as you might say, while getting my piece ready for Action, for we expected an attack on our part of the Line. This way of reading the letter perhaps made me think it better than it was, but I liked it better than any other I have got from you in a long while. I must congratulate you on the approaching end of your summer work,—school is out tomorrow I believe, — & I must also commend your resolution not to do any more of it for a while,—there is no use in driving yourself to death.
I send herewith something for your Photograph Album, being no less than a likeness of Lieut. F.L. Heywood of our Battery of whom you have doubtless heard me speak, & who went to see W. in Boston when on his Veteran furlough & who was our Orderly Sergt. for so long. The photograph does not do him justice, for he was sick when it was taken, but he promises that if he can get Leave of Absence this coming Fall he will show you the original with all the late improvements in the shape of crimson shoulder straps etc. If he comes up with us we will have a good time singing some of the new pieces of the day, for he is an accomplished vocalist as well as a performer on the Melodeon. Put him in the Album along with the rest of our Boys, & I hope to add a few more of "Ours" to the collection after we settle down again, on the fall of Atlanta, if they let us rest even after that.
I think that Atlanta is not the chief object of Sherman's operations myself for the destruction or capture of the Rebel Army is worth more to us than a dozen Atlantas, & we will be kept on the move till that object is accomplished. We could go into the city at any time if we wanted to, but its occupation is not desired if it would endanger the main plan which is for the annihilation of the Rebel host that man its defences [sic]. The desperate
offensive fighting of the Enemy since we crossed the River, their baffled charges & night attacks, show that they know the end is nigh unless they can break our lines & stop the awful pressure on their contracting defences [sic]. Thanks to the fighting qualities of the Army of the Tennessee they have not broken our lines—day by day we move forward to new positions & day by day do we tighten the grip on this Aorta of the Confederacy. They tried to break out last night through our line a little to the right of us, at about 10 O'clock, but after a half hours firing, during which they shelled us fiercely in support of the rally, they were repulsed & silence once more fell over the long dark lines of intrenchments [sic]. The firing began so suddenly & close to us that we jumped up and ran to our posts in almost a state of nature, having taken off our clothes for the first night since we came into this position. However, as soon as we got things ready, & found that the attack was not coming our way immediately, we put on boots & breeches & stood ready for anything that might come on.
Everything shows that they are desperate--that is, the Leaders as for the men, they wish the thing ended anyway, & express the greatest joy when taken prisoners & are allowed to go to our rear. Right in rear of where our Battery is now in position is the battle ground of the 28th July, & it is awful to see the long mounds of red dirt that show where the Rebel dead are buried, in trenches containing 30, 40, 50 and in one trench 240 bodies. You can have no idea of how the field looked before the detail for burying went on to it, & I would not have you know anything about it. Of one thing the people up North may rest assured: heavy as our losses has been since investing this city, it is nothing compared to that of the Rebel Army.
But this is not very agreeable for you to read & as we write so much now I will stop for the present. Write soon & don't forget – Tom –